J&J and Guilt by Association

Erik Greb PharmTech editorPublicity about substandard or contaminated products usually lights a fire under pharmaceutical companies, which then race to address their compliance problems. But a new US Food and Drug Administration inspection report shows that, despite a stream of product recalls and a Congressional investigation, Johnson & Johnson (J&J, New Brunswick, NJ) has not gotten its house in order yet. And the company’s latest problems conceivably could make things hot for one of its partners. Read more »

The Shrinking Pharma Labor Force

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor Merck & Co.’s (Whitehouse Station, NJ) announcement last week that it plans to cut 15% of its workforce and cease operations at eight manufacturing sites and eight research sites as part of an integration plan following its 2009 acquisition of Schering-Plough (Kenilworth, NJ) is yet another sobering statistic regarding the employment patterns in the pharmaceutical industry. So in light of this news, where does the pharma industry stand in recent job losses? Read more »

Biopharmaceutical Collaboration Is a Sign of the Times

Erik Greb PharmTech editorThis morning I read about a public–private collaboration that reflects many of the latest trends in the drug industry today. The project began when the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) created the 21st Century Biodefense (21CB) initiative to enhance the nation’s biosecurity. Robert J. Cindrich, who is leading the initiative, said in a press release that the project’s goal was to foster advances in vaccine development and manufacturing. Battelle (Columbus, OH), a research and development organization, IBM (Armonk, NY), Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ), and GE Healthcare (Waukesha, WI) have all joined the collaboration so far. Read more »

The Unkindest Cuts of All

Erik Greb PharmTech editorThese days, mandatory furloughs and staff cuts have employees in all industries nervously glancing over their shoulders. The pharmaceutical industry is no exception. Last week, Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ) revealed plans to reduce its workforce by 15% by the end of 2012. Read more »

Sensationalism strikes again

Stephanie Sutton Pharm Tech EuropeOnly a day after the results of two Phase III clinical trials involving Novartis’s oral therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS) were published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the media has leapt on the positive trial data and hailed the therapy as “hope for MS patients” that can “dramatically reduce relapse”. That’s great news, but hold on… the therapy hasn’t even been approved yet! Read more »

Pink Slips and Pipelines

Erik Greb PharmTech editorLast week we saw more signs that pharmaceutical megamegers bode ill for New Jersey workers. Business Week reported that Pfizer (New York) planned to close six research and development (R&D) facilities—some of its own, and some of Wyeth’s (Madison, NJ). Many of the 400 employees at Wyeth’s research offices in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, could be laid off. And last Wednesday, Richard Clark, CEO of Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ), told attendees at a Goldman Sachs conference that research jobs at Schering-Plough’s (Kenilworth, NJ) headquarters could be eliminated to reduce costs. Read more »

Repairing the Engine of Drug Innovation

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor

In a speech last week to the City Club of San Diego, John Lechleiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly, offered very candid remarks about the state of innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, saying that the engine of biopharmaceutical innovation is “broken.” His comments may be a bitter pill to swallow in light of escalating investment in research and development (R&D), but his frankness may just be the remedy the industry needs to reinvent itself. Read more »

Equality for Boys?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorI’ve been paying attention to Merck’s (Whitehouse Station, NJ) Gardasil vaccine ever since I first heard of it because it’s a subject that combines biopharmaceuticals, gender issues, and the politics of public health. At first, critics contended that giving young girls Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine would not just prevent cervical cancer, but also promote promiscuity. This concern may have subsided, but two new wrinkles in the Gardasil story came to light on Friday. Read more »

Meeting Unmet Needs

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editorTwo recent news reports provided some good news for a change. First, FDA announced plans to award $2 million in grants for the development of pediatric medical devices. Read more »

Sanofi and Shantha: Cousin, Cousine

Erik Greb PharmTech editorReading the news sometimes gives me a disorienting sense of déjà vu. I know I wrote that last week, but it’s true again for a different reason. Today, French heavyweight sanofi aventis (Paris) announced that it was acquiring a majority stake in Shantha Biotechnics (Hyderabad, India). This new development follows a now-familiar pattern. Read more »

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